Had THE TALK with my daughter tonight. Well, not THE talk (that came years ago) but the more difficult one, I believe regarding: what happens in the event of the sudden death of a parent?
For me, my folks let us all know there wasn’t/isn’t anything. It was easy. And before my biological grandparents passed, they sat me down one night in West Tennessee and let me know I wasn’t in their will. While they had been able to accumulate some assets they had decided the entirety would go to their six children. Since my mother had already passed away, her share would be divided between the remaining five. Knew that was hard for my grandmother especially, to say out loud, but I understood. That was their wishes.
My goal was different. I wanted to leave my children with some sort of something. They certainly won’t be set for life, or anywhere close, but college will be covered. That is something.
My children are twins; almost 18. As different as day and night, but both sharp. Almost old enough to work and provide for themselves too. Ideally, I’d like them to attend college and get a good solid start to the career of their choosing first. Takes time though. Money.
And things happen.
Technically, my children won’t need guardians per se, but I do feel they will benefit from having someone close to them (an adult who has been an adult for sometime), to guide them both emotionally and financially through such devastating loss. Fortunately, we have a whole circle of trusted beloveds right here. Need to iron out the wrinkles but I am certain they will be well cared for if the need should arise. Assured my daughter of that tonight, and soon I will talk with my son. Some may say I’m being an alarmist. For me, it is simply, an important conversation.
Had to speak with my dad as well. If I go before he does, I wanted him to know my wishes so they can be supported by him, when questioned by others. Shared what to do with the house, investments, life insurance, etc. It’s all written down in the Will, but shock is no good for anyone. Wanted to lighten the load of the biggest kind of responsibility there is in this situation: how do I proceed without letting down my loved one? How do I honor their wishes?
Regarding the father of my children and the family company we built?
Advised my soon to be young adults: who to fire first. Seriously. Who to never allow to sign a company check. The employees that could be counted on. Then my girl shared with me who she trusts already, and THAT convinced me, she is a great judge of character. Eased my mind. Reminded her she and her brother have good instincts. Just be conservative and careful. Take your time making decisions. Listen to the ones who looked both ways when making sure you crossed the street safely when you were six; who made sure you got a boo boo buddy when you hit your head on the steps going up the slide; who set the last strawberry ice cream bar aside on ice cream fridays just so you could have your favorite on a hot day; who sat with you on their kitchen floor and urged you to cry out your pain when your mom and dad were splitting up– and then held you close while you sobbed.
These are the people to look for when you feel alone and scared, lost and confused.
You know who they are.
Our kids don’t want to think we are going to die. Ever. Heck, my father is 78 and it hurts to contemplate how little time he and I probably have left together. Yet, I’m a realist. My children are old enough to know the facts, and I want them to learn my wishes from me, not some lawyer.
If you have older kids, or a spouse that is still living likes it’s the 1950’s and has no idea where the Will is or what kind of financial situation you are in, or even how you want to be sent off (in my family we don’t have funerals) tell them!
Have THE TALK.
Be clear, specific. Write it down. Place the Will in a place known only to the ones it pertains to. You are not being morbid or maudlin or manic. You are being meaningful; you are engaging in a loving, considerate act of someone who wants to ease the minds of those he or she loves. You want them to know they are cared for long after you are gone.
It is a kindness of epic proportions, and it may be the most personal act of generous love you ever perform.